What to Ask Before Booking Your First Airbnb Stay

Are you hesitant to use Airbnb because you have no clue what to ask before booking your first airbnb stay? Didn’t know that you could or SHOULD ask questions? Grab a pen and paper, or screenshot because it is 2018 and all, and read on.

New to the airbnb gang? Welcome. We’re happy to have you. Now have a seat. While I will always – and by always I mean at this point in time – swear by airbnb, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had my fair share of hiccups. Once I began staying in places for more than a few days, I started keeping tabs on what I should’ve asked the host.

Is there heat?

I’m currently sitting at the kitchen counter of my airbnb. I have a mini heater sitting a couple feet from me and when I go to bed, I’ll take it to my room and prop it up close to my bed. I’m also boiling a pot of water for some late night green tea because not even the shower I just took could warm me up. #ITSFREEZINGINHERE

I settled on Malta – the country I’m in – because I was dying to be back in Europe and this is one of the warmest countries this time of year (it’s February by the way). Although temperatures in the 60’s are far from hot, I must admit that it’s quite chilly. But surely it must be warm indoors, right? Wrong! It’s even colder than outside.

The day I arrived I contacted my host to see if he had heat or a small heater to spare. His response: sorry I don’t offer or advertise heat. The climate in Malta is blah blah blah for all but two months and blah blah blah. *Cue the doom sound effect *

So that’s a no?

I immediately went to airbnb to see if my next apartment would “offer” heat. The climate would be similar but a few degrees colder so I needed to know if I’d be cancelling asap. I noticed that there’s an icon for heat and my next apartment does indeed check it off. Who knew that was a thing? Certainly not I. And I know what you’re thinking. Why not just go stay somewhere else? Well, when you book a stay for over 26 nights there is no refund. You can have that tip for free.

So that’s how I ended up at this counter. I would sit here and have the oven wide open and on max, but still be as cold as all outdoors. So I gave in a bought a little heater that I carry with me from room to room in hopes of one day being as warm as can be because #IDESERVE.

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Is there air conditioning?

I started my long term travel journey a couple months ago in Colombia. In Medellin, the city of eternal spring, the weather was always perfect. If I got warm, I opened up the windows in the house. Too cool, well just having on maybe a long sleeved shirt or pants would do the trick. But then I went to Cartagena.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being so hot it’s hard to breath. To my future bae, I’m sorry in advance, but we’ll be hot and musty together. However, the hostel (they didn’t advertise themselves as one) was so damn hot that I would be in my room fully drenched in sweat. Did they have AC? SURE. Was it limited? Yes ma’am, Sam.

The air conditioning had hours of use, y’all! I couldn’t use it between 11am and 6pm. Luckily I tried to be out of the room during those hours but when I ran out of things to do, it was torture.

LEARN HOW TO TRAVEL ON $500 OR LESS

Do you have a hot water heater for your shower?

If so, how the hell does the thing work?

I’ve only had one other airbnb that relied on an in room water heater for showers. It was in Napoli, Italy and the host was as difficult as the contraption. I couldn’t even figure it out in order to take a warm shower but my travel partner did. Well…she lucked up. But I digress.

Fast forward to me arriving at my current airbnb and seeing signs everywhere stating that once the heater hits 37 degrees (Celsius) it’s perfectly hot enough for a shower. IN. WHAT. WORLD? Certainly not the one where your home is colder than the hellish 60 degree winter going on outdoors. And the kicker? I’ve yet to see the damn thing go above 42 degrees!

Every night I shower (mostly for warmth rather than filth) and my anxiety goes into overdrive. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder waiting for the temperature to go down that 1st degree. After it does, it’s a race for time. 39 degrees becomes 38, 38 becomes 37, and 37 is TOO DAMN COLD.

IS THERE HOT WATER?

This may be relative, but in Cartagena I did not take one hot shower. Even after checking out of my surprise hostel early and booking a high-rise apartment for the rest of my stay. I hear that’s a thing in the city but it’s not one I would’ve ever thought to research. Now I know better before jetting off to another tropical location and staying anywhere other than a 5 star hotel. Hopefully the hosts will be honest and not claim that their barely warm water is in fact hot.

Can I use your kitchen?

Once I checked into that high rise apartment in Cartagena I immediately went to the grocery store. That’s part of the reason I use airbnb and a big way to save money while living a nomadic lifestyle. To my surprise, the housekeeper stood just a few feet away from me watching everything I did. If I put something on a shelf she didn’t like, she was right there to move it. I would’ve asked her what her problem was but I don’t speak Spanish and she didn’t speak English. SO there was that.

After giving her a good ol’ stare down, I immediately went to my room to message my airbnb host. I asked if it was okay to use the kitchen. I only did that to slide in the fact that the housekeeper was following me everywhere I walked. He responded with a no. Apparently his kitchen wasn’t set up for use, aka a lie because guess who was chef’ing it up daily? That’s right, the maid.

This would be the first time that I ran to airbnb to double check my facts because surely an apartment would offer kitchen. Lo and behold that list of amenities that are either bolded or gray contained the word “kitchen” and it was the ashiest gray you’ve ever seen. Well I guess my ramen could go in the microwave. *rolls eyes*

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Will you be staying there or renting out the spare rooms?

How many guests will be there? That’s the question I asked my latest hosts when I noticed that they gave instructions for the keyless entry to the building and apartment. I quickly realized that they wouldn’t be staying at the apartment. Knowing that I definitely didn’t rent a full apartment – it was too damn cheap – I wanted to know exactly how many people would be staying here. The same thing happened to me when I booked my airbnb in Medellin and I wanted to be prepared this time.

The interesting part is that when I booked this room, one of the photos provided was a layout of the apartment. However, it was incomplete. I could tell because there was an obvious extra space on it aside from my room, the bathroom, the kitchen and living room. That part that was conveniently left off was the layout for the other two bedrooms.

Now maybe one day when I’m fancy enough I can click off that button on my airbnb search that says “entire apartment,” but for now, I’m too damn frugal. Because this is the second time I’ve booked a place only to realize 1. the hosts weren’t staying at the location and 2. there are several other rooms listed for the location on airbnb, I figured this is a question you NEED to ask. Especially ask it if you aren’t about that “several strangers” in one apartment life. Luckily I’m fine with it, but a heads up would be lovely.

My dearest travelers.

Now before I get attacked by airbnb mega hosts or the know-it-alls who think I should’ve known better, facts are facts. I didn’t. I DID NOT. But hopefully now nobody else makes the mistakes that I did.

Happy travels.

xo,

M.

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2 comments

  1. This post reminds me of a digital nomad who was charged with the electric bill on tip of his airbnb fee because he used a mobile heater being usually at home. I think proper communication before, the trip or even before checking in is really vital when using airbnb to avoid any problems with hosts! <3

    1. Hey Stella! I actually read about that situation before buying the heater lol. I definitely think communication on both ends is super important because I would never think someone would invite people into a home of this temperature with no warning. On the other hand, they’ve provided ample fans and things for when it’s hot outside, so I figured my heater is just the opposite. It’s literally a little fan that gives off heat 🙂

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